By Ruth Rodriguez
PUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWAN — A Chinese Coast Guard vessel allegedly harassed Filipino fishermen anew while trying to come near the Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea to fish.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said the incident involving a Filipino fishing boat (FFB) KEN-KEN and a China Coast Guard vessel occurred January 9, 2023.
The incident happened four days after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos’ state visit to China,
But the boat captian, Lito Al-os, only reported to them about it on Friday, January 20.
Al-os alleged that a Chinese Coast Guard vessel, CCGV 5204, drove them away while fishing in the vicinity waters off Ayungin Shoal.
“CCGV 5204 maneuvered towards FFB KEN-KEN at a distance of approximately 800 yards and deployed a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB)
“The CCG personnel onboard the RHIB gestured for the Filipino fishermen to leave the area,” the Philippine Coast Guard said.
FFB KEN-KEN was forced to alter her course and departed Ayungin Shoal.
However, “CCGV 5204 continued to shadow FFB KEN-KEN while underway to Boxall Reef.”
Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) is located 194 km away from Puerto Princesa.
The Philippine Navy’s Second World War Navy ship BRP SIerra Madre was ran aground on that feature.
The fishermen have taken a video of the encounter.
PHL Coast Guard investigating
Upon learning the incident, Task Force Pag-asa immediately dispatched additional Coast Guard vessels to protect fishermen in WPS.
“We want to ensure the safety of Filipino fishermen who conduct fishing operations in the said vicinity waters as their source of livelihood,” it said.
The PCG is collecting evidence and further information that will be forwarded to the Department of Foreign Affairs, (DFA).
If deemed necessary, the DFA may use the said report in filing an appropriate diplomatic action.
PCG Commandant Admiral Artemio M Abu assured Filipino fishermen that the PCG is committed to “uphold rules-based approaches” in protecting their welfare and securing the country’s exclusive economic zones “at all costs.”
The Chinese Embassy in Manila and the DFA has yet to comment on the incident.
Banner photo: Screenshot of video taken by fishermen of FFB KEN-KEN